Georges Guelzec leaves the stage


Georges Guelzec leaves the stage

December 29, 2017

European gymnastics turns a new page in its history

European gymnastics is turning a new page in its young and exciting history. Since its foundation in 1982, it has never stopped to expand its audience, to extend its reputation and credibility on the European continent, to the point of gathering today 50 national federations, representing more than a third of the 144 countries affiliated to the FIG. At the end of 2017, Georges Guelzec will leave his function, having chosen a well-deserved retirement.

This man will have accomplished two mandates at the head of the Union and, above all, devoted a lifetime to gymnastics. With this departure, an endearing character steps down, whose entourage will keep the memory of his radiant and serene face, the natural elegance of a man who forged his success with common sense, courage and an exemplary humility.


Born for gymnastics.

Georges is a pure Nantais! With the vision of the open sea and the daily realities inspired by the immensity of the ocean and the good earthling sense of neighbouring Brittany. He is six years old when he opens for the first time the door of the Gymnastic Club La Nantaise. His Club! He will never leave it again. He trains there tirelessly and gets the attention of his instructors.

As a young man, he works at the foundries of the shipbuilding workshops. A heavy job, painful, dangerous, but that will teach him the taste of effort, sweat, challenges. After work, young Guelzec still finds the energy to train at La Nantaise. On the apparatus, on the floor, his progress is immediate. He is well supervised and for this he will keep for eternity a deep admiration and recognition for Adrien Bride, his first coach. Other personalities will also mark his career: Raymond Dot, Michel Bouchonnet, Arthur Magakian.

As a 22 years old gymnast he participates in his first European Championships in Warsaw (POL), followed by the Ljubljana World Championships (YUG - SLO) in 1970, and the Grenoble Continental Championships (FRA) in 1973. Of all his memories as a gymnast, he retains above all the memory of his participation in the Games of the XXth Olympiad in Munich (FRG - GER), where he is in awe of the evolutions of the Japanese Sawao Kato, his athlete of reference, his model.


Gymnast, coach, judge, leader

Coming back from the Olympics, Georges Guelzec feels that the time has come to take the foot off the accelerator and to focus first and foremost on his Club, on the new generation of gymnasts who are following his footsteps.

At the end of 1972, he was promoted Technical Director and Coach. Among his students, he coached his own son Fabrice before he joined the National Institute of Sports (INSEP). In 1996, La Nantaise entrusted him with the vice-presidency. In 2008, Georges becomes the President, a responsibility he will assume until 2016.

Although busy with his administrative mandates, he does not leave the training halls. He works his way up at the regional, provincial and national level. He becomes a member of the Men's Technical Committee at the French Gymnastics Federation from 1980 to 1988, then National Technical President and General Coordinator until 1996. He is also a FIG International Judge and is part of the Olympic Games Panels (Barcelona/ESP in 1992 and Atlanta/USA in 1996).

In 2001, the General Assembly of the European Union of Gymnastics elects him to the vice-presidency, before making him its President in 2009, a position which he occupies during two legislatures, before taking leave of active gymnastics at the end of 2017.


The man, the leader, the organiser.

One cannot live of Gymnastics alone, as talented as he is. After returning from the Munich Games, Georges Guelzec, signs up for a professional career at the City of Nantes as director of the Palais des Sports from 1973 to 2005. In this position, he will multiply the initiatives for the promotion of his sport, gymnastics, but also of his city of Nantes, by organising international competitions and many other major sport events.

His management and leadership skills are noticed and he is approached by local authorities for the implementation of operational safety procedures. He cooperates with the elected officials as project manager at the Sports Directorate. He teaches at the National Center for Territorial Professional Training and other organisations responsible for event organisation, organisational security and responsibilities.

After such a career and all missions fulfilled to satisfaction, Georges Guelzec retires in 2006.


Passing on his passion.

In the Guelzec family, gymnastics is part of the genetic heritage! It is a lineage, led by Georges, the father, followed by his two sons that the gymnastics club La Nantaise trained and revealed to the general public. There is Fabrice. In 1992, 20 years after his father, he performs as a gymnast at the Barcelona Olympics (ESP). And there is the younger brother, Laurent, who also experienced the Olympics as coach of the French national team at the London Games 2012 and as head coach of the Swiss team in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro (BRA).

In the Guelzec family, as everywhere else, the apple never falls far from the tree!



Georges Guelzec's actions, personality, know-how and conviviality have seduced thousands of gymnasts of several generations. Constantly attentive, consensual, this Nantais has always favoured dialogue and knew, with skill and intelligence, how to redress wrongs, correct drifts. Often isolated in the face of adversity, alone to fight against actors not always well defined, Georges has managed to stay on course, win difficult struggles and making the justice triumph, taking the side of the weakest, the most disadvantaged.

Building on his successes, he has never claimed glamour and the media spotlight. With a humility that honours him, he has always preferred to celebrate his victories with friends, around a fresh Muscadet back home in Garnache, a stone's throw from the Atlantic Ocean.

When leaving the scene, European gymnastics is indebted to him for its good health and the promises of sustainable development.


Have a great retirement Jojo!